Mindfulness to Re-Light Your Match
At its simplest, mindfulness means being aware of your mind – being aware of what goes on in your thoughts. There is a great deal that goes on within our heads, and often the drama in our heads is based on regrets of the past, expectations that weren’t met in the present, and our fears or hopes for the future. Mindfulness is intended to help us become aware of all those streams of thought. This is a powerful opportunity for insight, because in the present moment, we can better manage our stress. That’s why being mindful is such a useful tool for stress management.
Mindfulness training can be a big help. First, mindfulness training helps build your resources to survive challenging times. Second, mindfulness training helps you pay attention and notice, and enjoy the good times with your loved ones. Third, mindfulness training offers you a consistent way to recharge, restore, and recover. Yesterday we talked about burnout among family caregivers, and mindfulness has even been proven to support people in managing the all-day every-day demands of caregiving. Research at Northwestern University found that when caregivers participated in mindfulness training, they had lower levels of depression, improved sleep, and overall improved quality of life. In the study, the care-recipients (individuals with early-stage dementia) also participated in mindfulness training, and experienced similar benefits. 
Try Chair Yoga
Chair Yoga is a simple, accessible way to bring gentle mindful exercise into your life. I love Chair Yoga for two reasons. First, it’s an adapted form of yoga that anyone can do, no special equipment required. Chair Yoga can be totally seated, making it accessible for individuals with mobility limitations. It can also include standing poses with the support of the chair. Second, because it doesn’t require any special tools or equipment, or even workout clothes, you can do it whenever you have a few minutes. Chair Yoga is a great strategy for stretching for five minutes in between back-to-back Zoom meetings and conference calls, whether you’re working from home or your home office. If you’re ready to give it a try, I offer a variety of information about getting started with Chair Yoga on a dedicated website and regularly post Chair Yoga videos you can stream for free on my YouTube channel.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk more about the key strategies you need to take care of yourself. For today, I’d love for you to try a simple breathing exercise, called Square Breathing. Ten minutes would be ideal, but even two minutes of dedicated breathing is a great start.
Sit down in a calm, quiet space. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out through the nose. Inhale, gently, to a count of four. Hold the inhalation for a count of four. Exhale, gently through your nose, for a count of four. Hold that empty space after the inhalation, for a count of four. Repeat several times, just letting your mind and body quiet down with your breath. If you’d rather practice along with me, I have a Square Breathing tutorial available on YouTube.
Keep breathing, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.
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